Hate towards a country's actions does not equate a hate towards its main religion
Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the 21st century. Many would even argue that bigotry towards Jews has gotten worse in the last decade or so. It’s a prejudice some of my family has had to face at one point or another, especially my elder relatives who lived through and survived the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism should never be tolerated.
On the other hand, I’m getting a little irritated by those who can’t tolerate a little criticism of the so-called “Jewish state.” To be specific, the people who like to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. What infuriates me even more is when these people just happen to be world leaders who should know better.
I’m not a Zionist, that in itself does not make me anti-Semitic, nor does it mean I want to see Israel disappear. I also don’t believe in any type of theocracy, but that does not make me an antitheist. I don’t support a Jewish state, nor do I support a Christian state or Islamic State, and I try not to refer to them as such.
There is much to criticize when it comes to Israeli policies. I’m not going to speak of those policies much here, but let’s say I decide to criticize the Israeli forty-seven year occupation of Palestine or how Israel continues to ignore international law by expanding settlements on that land. How exactly does that make me anti-Semitic?
If I condemn human rights abuses in Iran, does that make me anti-Islamic? How about if I criticize the United States’ failure to adopt universal health care, does that make me anti-Christian?
What about Jewish protesters within Israel itself? There are plenty of Israeli Jews who protest their government’s actions in the Middle East and Palestine. Hardliners might call them traitors, but they wouldn’t call them anti-Semitic.
By asserting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, it takes away from the real anti-Semitism growing once again in parts of Europe and the Middle East. I would think firebombing a Jewish store out of pure hate is much worse than calling Netanyahu a war criminal, whether or not it’s warranted.
It also diminishes the amount of progress we’ve made since world war II. Aside from the acts of a few misguided white supremacists and hooligans, most North American Jews can go their whole lives not having felt the sting of anti-Semitism.
So when I hear someone like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper effectively call criticism of Israel part of a new strain of anti-Semitism, it kind of gets my blood boiling. Not that I’m surprised coming from someone who believes that “Neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.”
No country, state or province is above reproach. Why should the government of Israel not be open to criticism as much as the government of Canada or any other country? Just because 75% of its population happen to belong to a particular religious faction?
Try as you may to make me feel guilty about criticizing another country, it just isn’t going to fly. If the Israeli government and their supporters want to avoid criticism, perhaps they should take a look at themselves and the damage their policies have done over the years.
I’ll be the first to admit that I complain about Israel’s practices more than Palestine, but there’s a reason for it. Israel is the super power of the Middle East, backed by the super power of the world in the United States. They’re also the ones who’ve been occupying and annexing Palestinian land since before I was born. If peace is ever going to happen, it’s going to have to start with them, assuming its peace that they want.